Marc Geiger, until recently the head of music at WME, and one of the founders of Lollapalooza, sounds like he’s not expecting to be attending any festivals in 2021.
Asked on “The Bob Lefsetz Podcast” when he expects concerts to return, Geiger said, “My guess is late ‘21, more likely ‘22.” And he told Lefsetz that the problem of insurance going forward is “a biggie” when it comes to reasons for that long a delay, although “there are probably 20.”
The music exec elaborated: “Look, the whole thing is a s— show… Whether it’s testing or it’s the government, it’s too infinite of a well to go down. But in my humble opinion, it’s going to be ‘22. It’s going to take that long before what I call the ‘germaphobia economy’ to be slowly killed off and be replaced by what I call the ‘claustrophobia economy,’ which is where everybody wants to go out and go back to dinner and have their life and go to festivals and go to shows. And my instinct is that’s just going to take a while because as you can see, these super-spreader events — sports, shows, festivals, anything, the classroom — ain’t going to do too well while the virus is this present.
“So my instinct is the world has a very long, forced timeout,” Geiger continued. “A lot of people see the positives in it, whether it’s climate, whether it’s pollution, whether it’s traffic, whether it’s nature, whether it’s animals, whether it’s our own beings and taking a pause. And I know it’s frustrating, maddening and economically destructive. But aahhh — this is bigger than us, and if you study history things like this have happened in history and been super-disruptive to normal society. So here’s a biggie for our lifetime.”
When Lefsetz, the industry blogger and podcaster, brought up the question of insurance, Geiger indicated having policies available for the future is a long way off for most promoters.
“There is no insurance against Covid currently offered… and even normal insurance policies are pretty scarce and hard to come by,” said Geiger. “The insurers are sitting on the sideline because there’s infinite liability. … ‘Hey I got Covid,’ this and that – how do you prove it, etc.? I think the biggest companies can maybe self-insure, and they can start. Everybody else has to wait till the insurance industry feels good. So that’s one of many, many roadblocks in the way of restarting this vibrant economy that got shut down. So there’s probably 20 (reasons)… Insurance is a biggie. And I don’t know when that comes back, either.”
When Lefsetz asked if drive-in concerts were a model for the future or gimmick, Geiger answered the latter. Asked to elaborate, he sighed and said, “Do I have to? Why is it a gimmick? Capacity is very small by the time you actually put the cars in. Pricing, with a disconnected experience, is high. The audio I don’t think can be very good yet in the car, but hey. These are temporary stopgap solutions… Garth did a very interesting thing basically as a pay-per-view right to other drive-ins… I think there’s a feeling that during what I call the germinology economy that almost anything (is appealing) if it’s the first time to get out of the house. So for me, it’s not really a great experience, to be honest. And the economics are broken, so let’s get real. People are doing things to do them, not to make a living, right?”
Listen to the entire podcast with Lefsetz and Geiger below.